Maine senator eyed for healthcare reform

Aug. 29, 2009 at 1:20 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Senate Democrats are looking to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, to join them in moving ahead on sweeping changes in healthcare, political strategists said.

Snowe, a political centrist, and Republican colleagues, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Michael Enzi of Wyoming, have been privately negotiating a healthcare plan with three Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee, The New Times reported Saturday.

Grassley and Enzi increasingly have been at odds with Democratic plans for healthcare, leaving Snowe to predict that public discontent with the healthcare system will only grow.

"Something needs to be done to remove the deep anxiety that people find themselves in because of the lack of health insurance," she told the Times.

Until his seat is filled, Sen. Ted Kennedy's death leaves Democrats one vote short of the 60 needed to overcome Republican procedural objections, making Snowe's vote more critical, the Times reported.

Snowe was one of three Republicans to support the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan.

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